Age does not seem to be celebrated in this country.
Which is odd because we covet old things, just not people. Vintage is hip, as is antique or distressed furniture. We like our wines and our cheeses aged. Old buildings and classic cars are held in the highest esteem. My son collects old comic books and the woman who cuts my hair buys old estate jewelry.
We like old things and yet we don’t see value in aging or old people. We don’t want to show them off to our friends and often times lovingly restoring them takes too much time or effort. It seems in this country people just get old, put out to pasture, past their prime. Some will blame this on the fact that we are a visual society and old people are simply no longer firm and perky and pretty. We tend to look back at old pictures and comment on how beautiful or handsome they were.
“Were”, I imagine that’s an awful word if you are old or even on your way to old. I have seen some stunning older people, as etched and full of character as the finest Victorian home, but youth and new seem to be dominant themes when it comes to human beings.
Society intentionally or unintentionally conveys that older people looked their best, did all their best work, made all their contributions when they were younger. We cut them off, enroll them in Medicare, send them to senior water ballet, put them on the AARP mailing list and tell them that what they “were” was most important.
Michael has this frying pan. It’s a big one, two handles. The glass cover broke a while ago and it is black and stained. I didn’t like the look of it, so I tried to replace it. I bought him a beautiful, shiny new pan for Christmas that now sits in the bottom drawer below our stove.
He uses the old one at least 2-3 times a week. It never really sees a drawer, it can usually be found sitting on the cooktop. It’s still an unsightly pan, but what it can do, what it has cooked now outweighs the look. It holds a position of importance in the kitchen.
The old pan is Michael’s favorite because as he puts it, “It is finally broken in.” High flame, simmer, browning, on the stove, into the oven, there is nothing this pan can’t do. It has been the star, the supporter, of some of his best meals.
Older people are not always easy, but I see value. They may not be new and it is possible some of their best looks are behind them, but they have the fine patina of a human being “finally broken in.”
Perhaps we should continue to work with them well after their outward shine has faded, put them right up on the cooktop, and allow them in the game. Maybe if we believe some of their best meals still lie ahead of them, they will believe it too.
My thoughts from the laundry room. No Curfew.